Friday, April 22, 2011

Green Building is for Everyone

Green Building can mean different things to different people. I often see this as different levels of green building. To some people, any building constructed to a higher energy efficiency level than the minimum code is considered green. While other people consider only the highest level of energy efficiency green. And yet another group not only requires high energy efficiency, but also reduced environmental impact from a material usage standpoint.

But I think most people are willing to settle for the middle ground; a home with better energy efficiency than what is required by code as well as a home that incorporates building materials that are either recycled and/or sustainable.

Accomplishing this is fairly easy and relatively inexpensive! One of my biggest irritations is why all buildings are not designed and constructed to be more energy efficient. For a home, higher energy efficiency can easily be accomplished by thicker walls with more insulation, insulating the rim joist, more insulation in the attic, proper sealing of penetrations and openings, and better doors and windows. These changes can dramatically increase the energy efficiency of a home yet may only add $1000 to the total cost. The energy savings alone will pay for this extra cost in as little as 3 years. For the life of the home, a more efficient home will require less energy every month and year than most other homes.

Any builder that does not offer an energy efficiency/green building package as an option is either lazy, not too bright, or maybe both. Being as these ideas are so mainstream, offering higher energy efficiency or green materials is a way to differentiate themselves and attract additional, potential buyers. This is not rocket science, it is more like marketing 101!

Many green building materials are readily available from local suppliers today. Examples of these include: reclaimed wood beams, dimensional lumber and flooring, cellulose insulation, some tile and counter top materials as well as some carpeting and natural flooring materials. Another example of a green building material is wood harvested from a forest managed in way to ensure sustainability. Cellulose insulation is a viable option in most areas today. Reclaimed lumber is typically available but may be more costly than newly produced wood. However, reclaimed lumber has characteristics difficult or impossible to obtain from new wood sources. Many of the other materials are readily available but may be more costly than more common materials.

Green Building is not hard and is available to everyone who is willing to search out or demand more than the minimum. Life is too short to accept what you don’t really want, especially when it involves what is probably one of the most expensive purchases of your life.

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